Well, I've been off the trail now for over 2 weeks and I haven't regretted the decision for even a second.  I'll say it again that my purpose was to seek God's direction for my life and I believe that He showed it to me a week before I left.  While I was out on the trail, praying and processing, I kept hearing a certain phrase, "Why are you hiking, go get her."  A very provocative phrase to be going through your head if you ask me.
  So the quick version is, boy and girl reconnect 1 week prior to departure, boy and girl email during that week and talk on the phone once, boy and girl text while on road trip to trailhead, boy calls girl from pay phones in Glacier National Park (conveniently located 2 days apart), boy and girl pray about direction that should be taken, in the 5 days of no communication, boy hears the above phrase.  Boy then decides to leave trail and pursue girl.  
It wasn't a flippant decision, but I asked myself, if I was to die in a year, would I regret not hiking a trail, or not pursuing love?  That answer was easy.
In the processing of my divorce, I knew that if I ever got into a relationship again, I was going to spend a lot of time together, I did't want to do the long distance thing again.  I also wanted to spend time with her community and have her spend time in my community so that we could listen to the opinion of others as to whether or not we are a good match for each other.
So the past two weeks have been a whirlwind of driving, meeting with people, phone 
calls and the joys of getting to pursue a very special girl.

So that's why I'm off the trail...

Stinking Ticks!!!

On my fourth day from the Canadian Border, I felt an itch on my right side, but I just kept hiking thinking that it was just my backpack strap rubbing against my side.  When I got into camp that afternoon, I decided to check out what what causing the itch and I had four little welts, and one of them still had a tick attached.
I did not expect to deal with ticks at all in Glacier National Park, so it came as a total surprise.  I even talked to a ranger about it and he didn't seem to concerned, so I stored the bites in the back of my mind and just kept going.
Well, three days ago I started getting a fever, a headache, abdominal cramps, nausea and the other symptoms of R.M.S.F.  So needless to say, I've started on antibiotics and am hoping that a full recovery is just around the corner.  Its not often that I get sick, let alone get a tick type illness, what are the odds.  
Don't worry, its not contagious, unless you get bit by a tick, so watch out...
I'm just glad to be off the trail and dealing with this and not out in the middle of the woods hoping to make it into town before it gets worse.
But this was not the reason I got off the trail...

I arrived at Rogers Pass at around noon on the 28th and began the process of trying to hitch a ride to the town of Lincoln.  This pass is where I have decided to leave the trail...yep, that's right, my trail hike is done for this year.  The decision does not come lightly and I will go into more detail in a later post, but right now i'll just say that my heart is not in the hike anymore and its very hard to motivate yourself for 3000 miles when your heart is not in it.
I really enjoyed my time hiking with Darren and Adrienne, it was so much fun to finally spend some time with them and share stories from the PCT.  We hiked together for 3 days and I pushed ahead just before Switchback Pass.  I wish them both a safe journey. 
The Chinese Wall in the Bob Marshall wilderness is absolutely amazing, its so beautiful, this huge wall that seems to be so out of place.  Just look at the picture below, but imagine the whole valley in front of it covered with snow.  It's stunning.

After the Wall, I had to collect a resupply box in Benchmark which even though the guidebook says its 1.5 miles of trail, its more like 3.5 miles off, not that its a huge deal, but that's quite a few bonus miles.  I stopped at the campground to get water and ended up having a conversation with a woman staying there named Susan.  She was a wealth of knowledge about the local area. 
My box there was supposed to get me to Elliston, which is like 5-6 days away, so it was a big box even though i only needed to go 2 days to get to Rogers Pass and I couldn't leave a bunch of stuff because they don't have trash service at Benchmark, so I even had to carry my box with me, (which I later burned in a firepit, my first fire on any of my trails, so that was a novelty)  so it felt a little bit like overkill carrying such a full pack.
The ridge walks were amazing through that section and it finally felt like I was up walking the divide (pictures to come soon).  Just before the pass, I caught up to another hiker named Joey who is from Iowa setting out on his first thru hike.  He had good spirits and i'm sure he will go far.

So I got to the pass, right, that's where this post began...I stuck out my thumb to hitch into town and gave myself an hour before I just walked the 20 miles.  About 15 minutes later, a pickup offers me a ride in the back, which is was more than happy to accept.  To see the road and scenery flying back at such a brisk pace felt surreal, especially when we passed another hiker that was walking the distance.  Poor guy, I didn't even wave to him.  We stopped at the gas station in Lincoln and I thanked the driver and passenger purfusely and set out to find a way west.  What they don't tell you in the guide book is that there is no public transportation out of Lincoln, but that I need to get to Missoula, which is almost 90 miles away.  Oh, joy.
I thought about just getting a motel room for the night and dealing with that problem later, I even talked to another thru hiker, Freebird, who was on the phone at the 3 bears motel.  Anyway, I walked across the road and thought to myself, here goes the real adventure...I stuck out my thumb and a blue semi truck pulled over.  Hmm, I've never riden in a semi truck before, this will be an experience... I asked the driver, "Where are you headed?", he casually said, "Seattle", I tried to hold my enthusiasm back and said, "Huh, me too, but i'll go as far as you are willing to take me."  Now Seattle is like a 9 hour drive away or something like that, I was thinking that a plane from Missoula sounded more my speed.  Quick, easy, painless, worth every penny of the probably 200 dollars it would cost. 
Needless to say, the driver, Tom, and I got to talking and laughing and pretty soon we both realized that we were crossing Snoqualmie Pass and it was almost time to drop me off.  I learned all about weigh stations, state patrol, truck stops, vietnam, truck log books, etc.  Thank you Tom for the good company.

So last night I had cheese pizza, peanut m&ms, chocolate milk l and a great nights sleep and now i'm trying to figure out how to put into words why I left the trail...

Rich here ... Jason checked in this morning.  He arrived in East Glacier at about 10:30 MDT.  The camp sites the Park Service had assigned him to made it so that he only could hike a half day each day, so he finally decided to hike past one yesterday, and gain one day of hiking.  This evening he called Cindy.  He found Machine and Step.  They hiked the PCT in 2010, and Jason has always wanted to catch up with them, even though he did meet Step on the PCT briefly, but never Machine.  They will be having dinner together, and then heading back on the trail tomorrow.  He plans to hike with them for the next few days.  Step has a Spot that he triggers often, so we can follow that.  Step's blog is at http://postholer.com/journal/viewJournal.php?sid=998e61f7a78ea704b959479ce968ec59&event_id=1389 .  Machine's blog is at http://adriennehikes.wordpress.com/ . 

Oh yes ... Jason saw his first Grizzly Bear!  I guess it was a close encounter.  He says he has it on video, so will see if we can post it later.  And, I'm sure the story wll be better told by him.

Cindy will be mailing Jason's first resupply box tomorrow, along with his Bounce Box.
Jason Boyes
c/o General Delivery
Elliston, MT  59728

ETA July 3rd!
Rich here ...This is the day it all starts. But, let's back up a little.  Pretty much all winter, we have listened and watched as Jason planned for the CDT.  We wanted to be a bit more of the journey this time, so asked if we could take Jason to the trailhead in Waterton.  He accepted! (We knew he would)  He once again wanted to start on his birthday. What a great way to begin a journey.  We planned the trip to start the hike with him from Waterton, and we would hike the first 8 miles with him to the end of the lake, and then catch the baot ride back to the townsite.  Well, as he mentioned, he could not get his itinerary to start at Waterton, so we decided to go a day early and we would all ride the boat up the lake and hike the 8 miles back to the townsite, partly because Jason really wanted to cross the border at Waterton, and partly so we could have just alittle time on the trail together.  So, on June 14th, we left our little bit of heaven in Plain, WA and headed for Canada.  As it turned out, we have friends, Paul and Stacie, that live in Bellevue, AB .. just 1.5 hr. from Waterton.  We call them up to see if they can put us up for the night, and they readily agree.  We left at 5:30 am and got to their house at 7:30 pm.  They turned out to be true Trail Angels.  They not lonly provided great overnight accommodations, but had lasagna waiting.  After dinner we walked across the street to the Ice Cream Shop.  If you ever go by Bellevue, be sure to stop at the Ice Cream Shop.  It is almost as good as what we make!  In the end, Stacie agrees to take the boat ride and hike with us, Paul, a vetenarian, had to work.  And, they agreed to put us up for a 2nd night.  That Friday hike on the 15th was wonderful.  We had a really great time together, and Jason bought dinner!

Saturday morning, June 16th, up at 7:00 and ready to go.  But, Jason is still adding to the blog, and still organizing his pack.  So, I get lessons from Paul and Stacie about roasting coffee (they have their own Nesco coffee roaster.  It is fabulous!)  In the meantime, while Jason is doing his thing on the computer, Paul and Cindy put together an impromptu cake, Stacie has a Birthday banner, and we get to sing Happy Birhtday to Jason.  Finally, at 10:30, we head for the trailhead at Chief Mountain.

The trailhead at Chief Mt. pretty much is right at the border crossing.  We take photos of Jason's first steps, then decide to walk the first 1/4 mile with him.  We give hugs, and watch him leave.  I actually had teary eyes, but I don't think Jason saw them!  It was pretty emotional. 

The rest of the day we spend driving around the East side and South side of Glacier Park.  A beautiful drive.  We had lunch at St. Mary Lodge, and stopped in East Glacier for a walk around the Lodge, and tried to imagine where the trail entered East Glacier and left.  Then, on to Kalispell for the night.
I'm really not a fan of birthdays, not to be all bah humbug about it, but it has just seemed like anohter day since I was about 13.  I'm the guy that forgets everyone else's birthday in hopes that they will forget mine in return, actually it has taken a lot for me just to write the fact that its my birthday, (I must be turning into a softie)
Right now I'm looking outside and it is overcast and windy, the perfect day to sit inside and read a book or watch a movie.  But that is not the plan for today for today is the beginning of the next adventure.  We are going to head out for the Chief Mountain trailhead and get this walk started.

Birthday update, as I was sitting here typing, I heard singing in the other room and Rich, Cindy, Paul and Stacie walked in with a Happy Birthday sign and a little cake with a sparking fountain on it.  All this trail magic and I'm not even on the trail yet.  Thank you everyone!!

Alright, its time to head out, thank you for following this journey.  My prayer is not just for safety, but that my heart will be open to hear everything that God has to tell me.

Tomorrow is the big day.  Am I ready?  Umm.  Can you ever really be ready for walking a trail for 5 months?  I'm excited to start hiking, to feel the joy in my heart, to put miles behind me.  Its going to be an awesome journey.
Today we went to Waterton Park and took the ferry down to Goat Haunt and walked the 8 miles back to the Waterton townsite going across the international border to get some pictures and video.  It was the perfect day, sunny and hardly any wind.  Stacie went with us and Rich and Cindy made me proud by being a part of the journey, I can't tell you how good it is to have them here at the beginning.  I'm sure that Rich will put some pictures up once they get back home.
I carried my full backpack, just to do one warm up hike with it and I loved it, it was comfortable and packed really well.  This is the first time I trained with it on, so my shoulders are pretty sore right now.  Mental note, next time, train while wearing a pack next time.  It will all come back naturally once I get out on the trail. 

Now if the weather will just hold out...
Well I was up until almost 2 am last night and set my alarm for 4 am this morning, let's just say that I'm feeling a little tired right now.  Rich, Cindy and I packed up their car and headed out this morning on our road trip toWaterton Lakes, Canada.  We made it through the Canadian border without any problems and even stopped by the world's largest truck in Sparwood, British Colombia and right now are staying at some friends of our in Bellevue, Alberta.  Thank you Paul and Stacie for your amazing hospitality and trail angeling, even though you probably have no idea that you are being trail angels.  We had an awesome homecooked meal of lasagna, salad and rolls, followed by a stroll over the ice cream shop across the street and then a leisurly jaunt around this beautiful little town.
We are spending the night here and will be getting up early to head to Waterton Lakes Provincial Park where I will get my permit and do a boat ride down the lake and hike back along it to see the border monument and get some pictures and video.  Its a little warm up hike before I start the trail on Saturday.  As of right now, Paul and Stacie offered to host us one more night, so I hope to post one more time tomorrow.

I can sense that God is already doing great things through this journey and I continue to be amazed at His unending love for me.  I keep hearing this whisper in my ear, "I am especially fond of you."
Father, may I have ears to hear, eyes to see and a heart that loves like you love.

ps. Sometime I want to do a post about Jesus being a hiker.
As I've mentioned before, I love to walk, which translates very easily into a love for hiking, which in turn means a love for backpacking.

 The PCT was labelled "Our Walk" because the focus was on our marriage and trying to make it the best we could, but it was not enough to save it.

The AT was "My Walk" because it was me dealing with the reality of divorce, which was not a pill easy to swallow.

Now the CDT is "A New Walk" because that's just what it is, a new journey, a new reality, not carrying all the baggage, but treading lightly with God seeking Him above all else  Above my marital status, above the heights of the trail, above it all.  Seek first His kingdom and all these things will be given to you.

So here's to a new reality...

Well, the food has been bought.  I spent about a month down at my brothers house in Arizona planning  7 food and gear resupply boxes for Colorado and New Mexico.  And now I'm back in Washington planning the 8 boxes for Montana and Wyoming.

I'm honestly not too picky about what food I eat, so its a pretty easy process for me.  One trip to Costco and another trip to the grocery store and I'm good.  Being here in Washington, I've got an amazing resource of a church coop type food pantry that has dehydrated veggies and fruit, oatmeal, etc. I'm so thankful to have that pantry so close.

I'm still a garbage vegetarian, which just means that if I have a choice, I will choose not to eat meat, but if I'm at someone's house and they make a meal with meat in it, or it food is going to get thrown away that has meat in it, i'll choose to eat it.  Eat to live, right?  I've heard that the CDT isn't the easiest trail to be a vegetarian on, but we'll see how it goes.  Oh, I'm planning to go stoveless again, so that will make things a little easier.

Breakfasts:  carnation Instant breakfast, instant oatmeal from the pantry, poptarts
Lunches:  tortillas w/ cheese or nutella, couscous, 
Dinners:  ramen, couscous, instant potatoes, dehydrated veggies
Snacks:  Clif bars, crackers, trail mix, wheat thins, granola bars, almonds
Desserts:  instant pudding, peanut m&ms, gummy bears

Wow, that's a lot of food, I should actually get back to packing up my boxes right now...